...on this date, William Howard, Sr. bought Ocracoke Island. The year was 1759. There is some uncertainty about exactly what he purchased. Inlets have come and gone over the years, and strong evidence suggests that the area where the village is now located was at that time a separate "inside island" not connected to the "sandy banks." A shallow body of water lay approximately where the Variety Store now stands.
Presumably William Howard, fourth colonial owner of Ocracoke and the first owner to make his home here, was already living on the "inside island" in 1759 (maybe as early as 1730) and may have owned that portion of Ocracoke where the village lies. Some evidence suggests that he had married into the family of Richard Sanderson, Sr. and Richard Sanderson, Jr. (third & fourth colonial owners). He may have inherited or been given his land by his in-laws. Perhaps his purchase in 1759 was of the rest of the "island," the sandy banks between Ocracoke Inlet and the next inlet (which was situated about 8 miles north at that time).
Evidence is mounting to indicate that William Howard of Ocracoke may well have been the same William Howard who served as Blackbeard's quartermaster in 1718. (Ocracoke has quite a colorful history!) At any rate, today is the anniversary of his purchase. Most of the known history of the village begins on this date 246 years ago. If only we could see now what it looked like then.
[Our current monthly Ocracoke Newsletter is the story of Kunigunde Guth Howard, published June 30, 2005. You can read it here: http://www.villagecraftsmen.com/news061505.htm.]